Military Review

Myths about the Battle of the Ice

The Battle on the Lake Peipsi is a battle of Novgorod and Vladimir under the leadership of Prince Alexander Yaroslavich against the troops of the Livonian Order, which by that time included the Order of the Sword (after defeat at Saul in 1236 year), in the area of ​​Lake Peipsi. The battle took place on April 5 (in terms of the Gregorian calendar, i.e. on the New Style - April 12) 1242 of the year. It was a general battle that ended the aggressive campaign of the Order of 1240 — 1242.

The battle, like many events in stories Russia is surrounded by a number of conjectures and myths. This article will address the most famous myths of the Battle of the Ice.

The myth of the war with the Germans. Most ordinary people, if they know about this war. they will surely say that the Russians fought with the Germans, the German knights. This is not entirely true. The word "Germans" we now call the inhabitants of Germany and Austria, in the XIII century the word "German" meant - "dumb", that is, not speaking Russian. "Germans" called representatives of many European nations who do not speak our language. The Livonian Chronicle reports that the army that went on the lands of Pskov and Novgorod consisted of the Knights of the Livonian Order (at that time it was one of the divisions of the Teutonic Order, located on the territory of the modern Baltic), Danish vassals and militias from Yuriev-Dorpat. And the militia consisted of “Chud”, as Estonians were called then (the ancestors of the Estonians). The war had a religious character - a “crusade” against heretics, which the adherents of the eastern branch of Christianity believed. But it cannot be called a war between the Germans and the Russians, since most of the warriors were not Germans. This is typical of the wars of Russia-Russia-USSR, the forces of the opponents usually have a coalition character.

The myth of the size of the invading army. Since the times of the USSR, some historians, at the mention of the number of armies colliding at Lake Peipsi, indicate that the army of Alexander Yaroslavich numbered about 15-17 thousand people, 10-12 thousand soldiers of the Livonian Order fought against them. But given the fact that the population of the largest European cities at that time did not exceed the number in 20-30 thousand people, these figures on the number of armies raise doubts. Currently, there are authors who generally decided to "modernize" the battle to the level of petty feudal clashes. Revisionist historians are based on a Livonian source who reported the loss of the 20 brothers and 6 prisoners.

But these scientists forget the fact that a noble warrior, a knight, did not fight alone, or only with a squire. The knightly “spear”, combat tactical unit, included squires, servants- “bodyguards”, professional soldiers. The number of "spears" could be up to 100 people. Do not forget the auxiliary units of the Chudo militia, which the knights did not even consider people, and did not take it into account. Therefore, the Novgorod chronicle claims that the losses of the Germans amounted to 400 people killed, and 50 people were captured, as well as the “pada of the people of the Asshole”. Russian chroniclers, apparently, considered all the "Germans", regardless of family or tribe, knights and ordinary soldiers, servants.

Therefore, the most credible figures are researchers who claim that the army of the Order numbered about 150 knights, thousands and a half of bollards (soldiers), and thousand and two militias from the Estonians. Novgorod and its allies were able to counter them about 4-5 thousands of fighters. That is, there was no significant superiority.

Nazaruk V.M. "Battle of the Ice", 1984 year

The myth of the heavily armed knights and lightly armed soldiers of Alexander Nevsky. This is one of the most popular misconceptions, replicated in numerous works. According to him, the armor of the warrior order was times in 2-3 heavier than the Russians. Thanks to this myth, arguments about the tactics of the Russian prince appeared. Ostensibly, this is why the ice on Lake Peipsi broke through, and part of the German army simply sank. In reality, the Russian and order warriors were about equally protected, and the weight of the armor was almost equal. Yes, and plate armor, which usually depict the Livonian knights in novels and films, appeared much later - in the XIV-XV centuries. Western knights of the thirteenth century, like the Russian warriors, wore a steel helmet and mail before the battle. They could be reinforced with solid-forged breastplates, shoulder pads - they protected the chest from the blows in front and the shoulders from chopping blows from above. The hands and feet of the warriors covered the bracers and leggings. Drawn this protective equipment kilograms on 15-20. And even then such protective armament was by no means all, but only the most noble and rich, or the prince’s warriors. Ordinary Novgorod and Chudsk militia did not have such protective weapons.

If you carefully study the scheme of the Ice Battle, it is clear that under the ice of the Order of the war failed not at all where the battle went. This happened later: already retreating, part of the soldiers accidentally ran into the "sigovitsa". At the island of Crow, or Crow's Stone, its coast is located Cape Sigovets - from the name of the fish whitefish. There, due to the characteristics of the flow of ice is weak.

The main merit of Alexander Yaroslavich, in this battle, is that the Russian prince correctly chose the place of the battle and managed to break the order system with a “pig” (wedge). The essence of the system is that the knights, concentrating the infantry units in the center and covering it on the flanks of the knightly cavalry, as usual attacked head-on, hoping to simply crush the main forces of the Russian army. Alexander placed in the center of his weakest parts - the Novgorod militia, infantry. They tied up the order wedge in battle, while he was losing time, the main forces of the Russian troops came from the flanks and rear. "Pig" lost its striking power and was doomed. According to Russian sources, the warriors of the prince drove the broken forces of the order seven miles to the far shore of Lake Peipsi.

In the first edition of the Novgorod chronicle there is no message about the failure under the ice, this fact was added a century after the battle. There is no similar information in the Livonian Chronicle. So, it is very possible that the Knights of the Order sinking among the ice is also just a beautiful myth.

Battle of the Ravenstone. In reality, the researchers do not know where the battle was. This is just one of several alleged places where a battle could have taken place. Novgorod sources referring to the battlefield point to the Crow Stone. But just where is this same Crow Stone, the researchers argue to this day. Some historians believe that the so-called island, which is now called Voronim, others say that the stone was once high sandstone, which over the centuries washed away by the flow. In the Livonian chronicle it is reported that defeated fighters fell on the grass, so that the battle could take place not on the ice of the lake, but on the shore, where dry reeds would have completely disappeared behind the grass. And already defeated, fleeing "Germans", Russian soldiers chased across the ice of the lake.

Myths about the Battle of the Ice

Kostylev Dmitry, "Alexander Nevsky, Ice Battle", fragment, 2005 year

Many people are confused by the fact that in the lake, even with the most modern equipment, no weapons and the armor of the thirteenth century, which is why some revisionist historians in general put forward the hypothesis that there was no battle. Although in reality, if there was no failure under the ice, there is nothing surprising. Weapons and armor were valuable loot, even broken ones (metal went to the forge), and bodies were buried. As a result, no research expedition has ever established a reliable site of the Ice Battle.

Perhaps the only thing one can be sure of is that the battle of 1242 of the year has indeed taken place. We once again took up over the Western invaders.

I would like to hope that when we make a new film about the battle, he will keep the spirit of the old film, but he will be spared from historical inaccuracies.

Sources of:
Runners Y. Alexander Nevsky. M., 2009.
Pashuto V. T. Alexander Nevsky M., 1974.
Searchers: Unknown Battle on the Ice


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  1. Gur
    Gur 12 September 2011 08: 37
    A good author ... it never happened, it wasn’t .. but in the end ...- and yet we won .. -removed- .. we cannot find out the history of our last days .. but we are trying to understand and rewrite .. cases days long gone. Further it will be even more .. it will become clear that these were not Livonian knights at all, but the fact that these were Russians among themselves "weird" (as they wrote here already about the Tatar-Mangol yoke) .. and it’s not Russians at all, but Finns .. fought .. yes and did not fight in general then .. and so we rode on a sleigh and got under the ice .. Mlyn .. as if in a country with work is bad .. garbage people suffer .. urgently need to organize what kind of thread giant construction. And all the scribblers and historians to work .... that would not toil.
  2. Rico1977
    Rico1977 12 September 2011 13: 21
    It’s a pity not in those days — it’s a pity .... Whatever it is, no matter what happens — no one will know for certain, but in the memory of the Russian people it is one of the most important battles for the Russian faith, a symbol of victory, and let it remain so. And it would be better if all sorts of writers did not touch this holy topic with their dirty hands ...
  3. datur
    datur 12 September 2011 16: 19
    The winners write the story - ours, like all the winners, slightly embellished this business. and the Germans downplayed as losers. if they won they would write how they defeated whole hordes of barbarians. it’s always been everywhere. But this does not detract from victory !!!!
  4. nnz226
    nnz226 12 September 2011 16: 54
    "Russians always beat Prussians!" A.V.Suvorov And who was the Livonian rabble of knights by nationality does not matter much. In 1941-45 we also fought with the Germans, although there were representatives from all the nations of Europe, maybe only the British and Irish did not check in ...
    1. Tyumen
      Tyumen 12 September 2011 20: 00
      There were no Irish, but they also did not join the anti-Hitler coalition.
      Apparently, there were enough problems at home. But the SS British Volunteer Corps - was even noted on the defense of Berlin. Serbs and Greeks - just did not fight.
      1. sirToad
        sirToad 7 October 2011 03: 55
        It was the Serbian unit of the SS and the Irish themselves quite assisted the German saboteurs.
  5. Priest
    Priest 12 September 2011 21: 35
    Pretenders to discussion - at least pretend to be present as witnesses of events? What is your idea? and logic? (in that regard - on the basis of what is it built?
    The question is really read material (a certain amount of literature - on the basis of which your conclusions are made? (Or blindly licked general information from the Internet?) No need to quote, - your personal opinion is needed smile
  6. Aktium
    Aktium 12 September 2011 21: 45
    It is curious that the so-called "pig" or "boar" formation is not mentioned anywhere else. If it was a correct tactical formation, then it should have been used earlier - and successfully. If this is an improvisation, then it is not clear why it was used exactly I am not discussing the number of soldiers, but still there was superiority in numbers. (Regardless of the sources, everyone agrees that the LR forces were less.)
    Such a thought. Take, for example, the Battle of Poltava. There were more Russian troops and artillery than the Swedish. So in the Battle of Lesnaya, the same thing. So, it turns out a logical tactical outcome - if you want to win, pick up more soldiers (if the weapons are about equal, in a head-on collision, everything will be decided by the number of soldiers - whoever has more, won.)
  7. Cvetluy
    Cvetluy 12 September 2011 22: 17
    There is of course a breakdown with the article, but it is still better (the presence of the article) than there is absolutely nothing if the readers wake up and add at least a drop of pride, patriotism, etc. bully
    1. Vladz
      Vladz 12 March 2012 20: 27
      the author takes a small step away from the story. it seems harmless, but FOR WHAT? Based on such materials, he does it.
      unfounded claims. Yes, and sometimes stupid.
      He does not even know that there was such a state as Prussia and it was located there. they were called Germans. But Germany was not there then!
      This false istroik does not even know Geography! Where can he talk about history!
  8. Priest
    Priest 12 September 2011 23: 22
    What do you mean by pride and patriotism?
  9. Sanzyro
    Sanzyro 13 September 2011 09: 44
    "There is no such information in the Livonian Chronicle. So, it is very possible that the knights of the order drowning among the ice are also just a beautiful myth." - And this, already a blatant lie ...
  10. Aktium
    Aktium 13 September 2011 12: 51
    Sanziro, as always, is in his repertoire. You, "comrade", apparently do not know how to conduct a dialogue at all. Provide evidence of your point of view, and do not splutter.
  11. zczczc
    zczczc 13 September 2011 14: 55
    "... auxiliary units of the Chud militias, whom the knights did not consider people at all" - this is the attitude of Europe towards Estonians. Then it is understandable why they have an inferiority complex! Pay attention, they fought against us even then, despite the fact that they were not even considered people.
    1. sirToad
      sirToad 7 October 2011 03: 59
      Well, maybe the hot Estonian guys tried their best to prove to the owners that they are people too. only for some reason no one ever raises the question of everyday life and servility of Estonians.
  12. Dovmont
    Dovmont 20 September 2011 20: 54

    Many are embarrassed by the fact that in the lake, even with the most modern equipment, no weapons and armor of the XNUMXth century have been found so far.As far as I know, Tatishchev pointed out that men as early as the XNUMXth century often used networks to get medieval ammunition from the bottom of Lake Peipus. Although modern historians consider Tatitishchev an incorrect historian, because his views on the history of Russia were very different from the views of the court Sracolisis and their patrons.
    1. sirToad
      sirToad 7 October 2011 04: 18
      if they didn’t find it, then it’s worthless or wrong. Levanevsky’s plane was not found either, although they were looking for what? so - and there was no flight? or else - in our city there was a series of murders in the 90s but only heads were found. and bodies - no, maybe the victims were incorporeal?
      here I think a banal fit of facts to once again crap Russian history.
    2. Glagolitic
      Glagolitic 17 March 2015 14: 43
      No results found! Not a mass grave of Germans. Not a mass burial of Russians. Not a massive burial of horses! Nothing!
    3. The comment was deleted.
  13. Vladz
    Vladz 12 March 2012 20: 24
    Interesting work. well done author. But it’s sad that people deliberately shame on history. What is your purpose? To slander everything? Become famous? Work out an order from a Western uncle?
    * Germans, well, who does not know that we are talking about the Prussians. Are you not familiar with Georgafia? Do you know where Prussia was then?
    * all were mercenaries. This does not change the situation. Alliances have nothing to do with it.
    We can talk about alliances when it comes to government acts.
    And even then, in the Second World War we say "Nazi-German troops." And where did the Bulgarians, Italians, Turks, etc. go then ... there is no need, dear, to distort history. It's dangerous!
    about the number. here you can always dig up inconsistencies. most importantly, no one can object to the document.
    tactics of action. Yes, and after the fight yesterday-today you will not know what how and why. On purpose or by accident.
    No need to move the ashes of the ancestors, disputing the story. It is harmful and dangerous!
    Here we will never find the truth. And evidence.
    It is important to understand WHY YOU DO IT ??????
  14. vladikmamcha
    vladikmamcha 14 May 2013 23: 33
    I do not think that after seven and a half centuries, it is possible to detect metal parts of weapons. Firstly, it is not known exactly where to look, and secondly, let's count. The mass of metal in armor and weapons of a knight is not more than 50 kg. Simple soldiers and servants are many times less. Multiply this number by the number of possible dead and lost weapons. Further. Armament at all times was of great value. Therefore, everything that was possible was picked up on the battlefield, removed from the water during the first years after the battle. An insignificant part remained scattered, scattered over at least ten kilometers, because it is known that the Teutons were persecuted for seven miles. Common sense suggests that detecting, especially among bottom sediments, anything significant is hardly possible.
  15. Gunslinger
    Gunslinger 17 May 2013 20: 37
    Most medieval battles were of small scale. An army of a thousand people was already considered large. So the information in the article on the number of parties is quite reliable.
  16. Glagolitic
    Glagolitic 17 March 2015 14: 39
    Strange ice !!! Germans walk on ice and do not fail. Become a compact combat formation (pig), the pressure on the ice increases and does not fail. They fight with Russian soldiers, even more pressure on the ice and again do not fail! Some kind of magical ice. But when the Germans ran the ice here and said - but they didn’t tell me to crack it.
    And further! In the German rhymed chronicle it is said: and those killed fell on the grass! And what is grass in early April. Grass will only grow in a few months!